When You Abandon Your Brand

While there are many things about business travel that are a bit tedious,  I do enjoy staying in a lovely hotel room; I put effort into making wise choices. But recent visits to a much-cherished hotel delivered some unexpected surprises and a powerful reminder of the importance of staying on brand.

What were the surprises I encountered? What could have been done to stay on brand?

My first stay at the hotel was very early in October. The booking was made through a corporate account, so clearly business related. (In addition, I also own one of those business membership cards and was rewarded with a bag of chips and a bottle of beer, but that’s another story.)

I settled into my room, took out my laptop and began working on one of several projects I’d reserved specifically for this focused, quiet time. The internet connection kept dropping. I called the front desk and, while there was an apology, there was no solution other than to suggest I leave my room and work in the business centre off the lobby. Given that it was early evening and I had several hours of work I hoped to do, this wasn’t an appealing suggestion.

In addition to this hiccup, the next morning I picked up a bathmat that was shredded and rag-like, and noticed that the bathroom itself was boasting a generous amount of mold. Not good.

All of these things I mentioned to the day manager at checkout the next morning. Apologies were readily available. I was told that all floors in the hotel experienced difficulties with an internet connection, and that housekeeping would be contacted. “I hope so, ” I thought because I knew I had another booking at this hotel later in the month.

Unfortunately, the next visit included similar surprises. A very large red wine stain on the carpet greeted me as I opened the door to my room and during the night a torn blackout blind was annoying.

Again at checkout I mentioned these issues and finally heard an explanation that made sense. The entire hotel is being renovated, the staff person told me. They are doing it one floor at a time. As a result, they are only doing minimal maintenance of the existing rooms. 

While this may be logical, it has destroyed their brand, at least with me. This is/has been a grand hotel, not only full of history but also elegant and offering superior customer service. During renovations the elegance and service have disappeared. I’m left feeling betrayed, that the brand I cherished was only superficial, never the truth of how they valued me as a customer.

This brought to mind a very different experience I had last September in Saint John. For the first time I chose to stay at a Chipman Hill  Suites location, and there was major construction in the neighbourhood. Here is the note I received when I made my booking:

You have booked at 71 Sydney Street.  Due to a large construction project in the immediate area, all rates at the building are already reduced, across all online channels, as a “construction special”; the construction special is the rate you will automatically be charged when the time comes to charge your credit card.  If you are an early riser, we encourage you to take advantage of this special and keep your booking at 71 Sydney.  If you like to sleep late we encourage you to think about booking in one of our other buildings, located away from the construction noise, since construction takes place 5-7 days a week, starting first thing in the morning and continuing until suppertime. Depending on where you book with us, different rates will apply, but we are offering discounts off regular rates for higher value rooms. Ask our friendly staff and let us help you decide the best spot for you! 

Chipman Hills Suites recognized that the construction was interfering with their brand; that the noise, dust and parking issues inconvenienced their guests and, even though the situation was well beyond their control, they took action to stay on brand. A lifelong early riser, I enjoyed a beautiful, elegant, very comfortable stay … and will choose Chipman Hill for every visit to Saint John because they deserve my loyalty.

As our companies grow and encounter new challenges, it is vital we continually step back and ask “Am I staying on brand?”




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